One of Those Necessary Evils in Life and Riding

There are a number of what many call, “necessary evils” we all must contend with in life. Those inevitables of which we say, “can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”  They include government, taxes, lawyers, mothers-in-law, to name a few. Insurance might be named among these as well. It’s a hassle to deal with, and not often easy on the bank account. But if you’ve ever “been down” as I have, (and it’s often not a question of “if” but of “when”) having the right insurance coverage with the right company can mean the difference between getting back on the road in a timely fashion, or languishing indefinitely on the front porch.

Choosing the right insurance policy is a lot like choosing the right motorcycle. You want it to fit your needs and lifestyle, but at the same time not break the bank. While most states require that riders carry a minimum amount of liability, other types of coverage are usually optional. A good insurance agent and company rep will know which laws apply in one’s state (or country). So I decided to get a meeting with my guy to pick his “grey” about the matter.

Jay Hardy is a State Farm representative here in Georgia, and had much good info to share on the topic of motorcycle insurance. “First of all,” Hardy began, “Let me clear up a common misconception. Local agents have no control over prices and rates. These are set by corporate actuarial departments, based on factors such as rider age, type of bike (brand, displacement, style, age), and claims related to these.” For instance, a 24 year old single male with a 2014 Kawasaki ZX-10R will likely find much higher premiums than a 44 year old married male on a 2008 Honda Shadow 750. And yet, ”just because a bike is older or smaller displacement, doesn’t mean insuring it will be cheaper,” Hardy clarified.  A late model Yamaha FZ09 might actually cost less to insure than say, a classic Ducati 750SS.

Hardy also pointed out that driving history, whether or not a rider has completed a motorcycle safety course, and even credit history all can factor into insurance rates. “We’ve conducted studies that show the better the credit a rider has, the better the claim history will be,” Hardy stated. Think about that for a moment. And as much as some riders like to fight with lawmakers over “helmet laws”, riders living in states without such laws face higher premiums with their insurance companies, for obvious reasons. CDC and NHTSA studies in recent years bear this out. If you’re not willing to cover your cranium in the name of “personal freedom”, then your medical (or mortuary) costs will be much higher if you go down, and hence, insuring your brain bucket will be much higher too.

Ok, you’re eye-balling a new ride for the new year. You’ve already got all these factors to consider. So what types of coverage should you buy? My guy Hardy advises, “I definitely recommend 100/300 Liability. You’re buying $100K of personal injury, and $300K per accident. Remember, you’re protecting yourself from lawsuits, and so on. You have to carry liability here in Georgia, so cover yourself well.” Hardy says carrying at least $50K in property damage is important too. Comprehensive Roadside is worth pricing, and some companies also offer Medical Payments Coverage.

Here are some definitions of coverage-

Liability– Covers bodily injury and property damage that you may cause to other people involved in an accident. It doesn’t cover you or your bike. Many states mandate at least this basic coverage.

Collision– Covers damage to your ride if you are in an accident. Your insurance company pays for damages, minus your deductible, incurred when you collide with another vehicle or object. Collision usually covers the book value of the bike before the loss occurred.

Comprehensive– This pays for damages caused by an event other than a collision, like a fire, theft or vandalism. But just like collision, your insurance company will pay for damages, minus your deductible, and will cover only the book value of the motorcycle.

*Keep in mind most comprehensive and collision riders will only cover the factory OEM parts on your bike. If you decide to add on any aftermarket “farkles”, then ask about optional equipment coverage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist– Covers damages to you and your property caused by another driver who either doesn’t have insurance (uninsured) or doesn’t have adequate insurance (underinsured) to cover your damages. This came in handy for me back some 20 years ago, when a guy with “junk” insurance jumped out and hit me at an intersection, landing me in the hospital with multiple injuries. Note: it pays to be with a reputable company. Trust me.

It’s also worth noting that many insurance companies will give discounts for assorted factors. Having a recent (within the past 5 years) motorcycle safety course under your belt might garner you discounts of 10-15%. Maintaining a clean driving record can translate into savings as well, if you’ll ask. I’ve received multi-bike discounts when I insured them under the same plan. Holding memberships with various associations and organizations, such as AMA, AAA, GWRRA, etc., can bring price cuts too. And as much as we older chaps hate to admit it, being a senior or “mature” rider can give (well-earned) cost breaks also. Hey, if you qualify for discounts on your favorite plate of hotcakes at IHOP, why not accept them for your bike insurance?

This just scratches the surface of possibilities and combinations of motorcycle insurance. The options are as many and varied as the bikes and riders on the road. Bottom line– cover your ride and your hide. You’ll be glad you did. I am, no doubt.



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